Herbs & Plants

Castela emoryi

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Botanical Name :Castela emoryi
Family : Simaroubaceae – Quassia family
Genus: Castela Turp. – castela
Species: Castela emoryi (A. Gray) Moran & Felger – crucifixion thorn
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision:  Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass:  Rosidae
Order: Sapindales

Common Name ;Crucifixion Thorn ,Castela emoryi

Habitat : Crucifixion thorn is endemic to the Sonoran Desert and southern Mojave Desert, is
widely scattered in southwestern Arizona (e.g., along Interstate 10) and reaches its
western limits as a few populations in the deserts of southeastern California (Turner, et al,
1995). This species also occurs in northwestern Sonora, but is reported from only 4-5
sites there (Turner, et al., 1995), and in northern Baja California at one site immediately
adjacent to the Crucifixion Thorn Natural Area (CTNA) population in Imperial County,
California (Turner, et al., 1995).

The crucifixion thorn barely reaches the WMPA as a few scattered populations and
individuals: Amboy Crater quad. (Davidson, 1920; Skinner and Pavlik, 1994); Lavic, 8
miles (13 km) west of Ludlow, occurs for some distance along a sandy wash (Ferris, 1919;
Munz and Johnston, 1922; Munz, 1974; Jepson, 1936; Tibor, 1997); east of Hector Mine
Road in a wash, Sunshine Peak quad. (Wear and Wade s.n., UCR, RSA; Skinner and
Pavlik, 1994); lava beds 25 mi. (40 km) northeast of Daggett, Dunn quad. (Greer s.n.,
SD; Jepson, 1936; Parish, 1921; Skinner and Pavlik, 1994); at the southeast edge of the
area at Clark’s Pass east of Twentynine Palms (Aulenbrock 127, UCR), and at Dale Dry
Lake (D. Swinney s.n., UCR).

Castela emoryi is a   short tree (up to 30 feet tall) with a crooked trunk and a wide spreading crown with many fine branches, leafless for much of the year.The tree looks like Jerusalem thorn – yellow paloverde


It  leaf is alternate, bipinnately compound, usually with only 2 major leaflets each about 1/2 inch long, blue-green and short lived. and the flowers are  loose clusters of bright yellow flowers with 5 lobes, entire flower 3/4 inch across, appearing in spring and early summer. The fruits are Two to 3 inch flat legume, light brown, mature in the summer and drop quickly.
Twigs are Slender, blue-green and smooth, straight spine at base of leaf. Barkis Initially smooth and green, later turning light brown and a bit scaly.

Medicinal Uses:
The Yavapai people traditionally used this as a medicinal plant, making a dermatological aid from its bud’s sap. The cold brewed tea is used to treat amoebic and giardic diarrhea, and any stomach or intestinal flu, particularly in the flat-tasting, early days of recuperation.  Soak the stem pieces in water to make it safer to drink. The tea makes a good skin wash for scratches and abrasions.

Other Uses:
Insecticide and fungicide:
Castela emoryi is a plant toxin insecticide. It contains quassinoids such as glaucarubolone glucoside which has antifeedant properties against termites such as Reticulitermes flavipes, or potential fungicidal activity for the control of grape downy mildew.

It also contains glaucarubol, a compound characteristic of the family, ellagic acid, betulin and (—)-syringaresinol.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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